On Steam Sales and Backlogs

The most recent Summer Steam Sale has come and gone, and in its wake are numerous Steam libraries overflowing with games, probably more than will be possible for one person to play. We’ll all chuckle and joke about our growing “Piles of Shame”.

I didn’t pick up a single thing in this most recent sale, which is a first for me. I can usually convince myself I might as well pick something up. It’s on sale, after all! That got me thinking about past sales and the number of games currently gathering dust in my library.

Click to Embiggenify

As far as I can tell, you can’t sort your Steam Library on “Date Purchased”, but you can sort it on the date you last played each game. If you have purchased, but not actually played, a game in your library, the last played date is preceded by the word “New”, meaning it hasn’t even been installed. As I looked through my library of almost 200 games, it looks like the Winter 2012 Steam Sale was the most fruitful for me. In the interest of space, I’ll just link thumbnails of some of the items I picked up in that sale:

There are some “Triple-A” titles here, including Darksiders and Sim City 4, but I’ve also got some titles I don’t even remember buying. Larva Mortus? Grotesque Tactics?

I know what this is. I recognize the signs. I’ve watched enough A&E to know: This is HOARDING.

Digital hoarding.

I’ve seen enough episodes of Hoarders to know that I’m hoarding these games. It’s almost become a badge of honor to have all these games in my library. “Look how silly it is! I’ve got all these games I’ll never play!” Justifications like “they were on sale” and “it was cheaper to buy all the DLC together” slightly ease the discomfort. Don’t even get me started on Humble Bundles. They have contributed to this mess just as much as Steam Sales.

The argument could be made that digital hoarding isn’t hurting anything. There aren’t cockroaches in my kitchen because I never installed Future Wars. But that title is there, in my library list, like a wedge in my brain every time I look at that list. It just sticks in there, nagging me with a sense of disappointment. Disappointment in myself that I still haven’t loaded up this thing that I paid for and disappointment in my lack of willpower in purchasing the trash in the first place. (Note that this post is not a reflection of the quality of the unplayed games in my library. I wouldn’t know. I haven’t played them.)

So as we kick of “Hate Tony Week” (everyone hates me once a year when the wife and kids are gone for summer camps and I have 5 uninterrupted evenings with as much gaming as I can manage) I’m going to take a hatchet to my “backlog”. My Pile of Shame will be turned into a Massacre of Bad Games. In between sessions of Doom, Dota, and Overwatch, I’m going to ruthlessly eradicate large swaths of my library. I’ll give them all a fair shake, but my time has become too valuable and too scarce to waste on bad games. So I’m going to install some of these games, give them a chance and if they don’t make the cut they get the axe. No longer worthy to take up a spot in the list, they will be banished.

And I will no longer feel guilty about hoarding them.